> There may be a few psychological problems among > ong educators. For example, several generations of > highly intelligent and experienced people, around the > world, have produced scores, if not hundreds, of > arithmetic textbooks over the decades. Yet, there > are a couple of correspondents in another discussion > forum who are working out yet another arithmetic > textbook which they think will solve all our math > education ills. > > What could they possibly be thinking? Either they > hey are unteachably ignorant of the history of math > education or they are monumentally egotistical to > imagine they can produce the one textbook that eluded > all the others who came before them. > > My own view is that so many different arithmetic > tic textbooks have been tried over so many years with > so many students, that it is now abundantly clear > that whatever ails math education cannot be solved > with another arithmetic textbook. If we know nothing > else about math education, we know this: the problem > lies elsewhere. > > Well, curing this apparent delusion is not a job > job for management science, it is a job for > psychiatry. > > Haim > We're buying shrimp, guys.
Before you make this enormous claim that we believe such a textbook will solve all the problems in K-12 and early college math education, I recommend you either contact the rest of us first or find such a statement to support this claim. I'm sure you will not find a single statement from any of us that says we believe all problems with K-14 or K-16 math education will be fixed with a single textbook. Clyde's organization focuses on helping innumerate adults and adults with math anxiety, and I'm sure that Clyde Greeno and Alain Schremmer and I are intelligent and sane enough to know that these ills of K-12 math education are not going away with this work, even if our work turns out to be highly successful.
Even if we could tackle these other problems you had mentioned, the problems we are trying to tackle now will still have to be addressed. Will math anxiety and innumeracy in today's adults suddenly go away even if all these ills in K-12 education suddenly disappeared? Even if everyone suddenly got rid of the fundamental messes in K-12 education by getting rid of Big Publishing, laws and school regulations that hold us back, indifferent or backwards-thinking supervisors and educators, etc., we will still face problems that will take years before they are resolved. So the problems with innumerate adults and adults facing math anxiety will still be a problem for years to come and, in fact, will be a problem that will never go away completely because a perfect education system that guarantees that not a single adult will be innumerate does not exist. Our work cannot be 100% successful, but our work does address a problem that still needs to be addressed and will always have to be addressed at least to some extent.
I'm not sure why Clyde and Alain and others are not trying to address these other problems in K-12 math education that we are talking about here, and I'll let them speak for themselves. But, as for me, I'm not sure how to address those problems, so I believe it is best to start with something that I think I can eventually address. And I also want to address these problems for another reason: They are the problems that the students I work with have, and I can't ignore their problems. Their needs differ from what K-12 students' needs are, and their needs cannot be fulfilled by fulfilling K-12 students' needs. But K-12 education is still a concern of mine because bad K-12 education means that future adults in droves will continue to have these same problems we need to address.
I agree that many arithmetic textbooks have been written over the years, and they do vary in organization, emphases, applications, etc. But the ideas behind arithmetic, at least in the books I have seen, are explained in essentially the same ways. The same goes for Internet resources: They all explain arithmetic concepts in essentially the same meaningless, mechanical, show-and-tell ways that commercial textbooks do. Alternative textbooks and materials are scarce, and I wouldn't be surprised that many of those few books and materials are either out of print or very difficult to find.
Even if the materials we develop are going to be successful, we still need to convince others to try them, and that is no easy task and cannot be accomplished simply by saying to them, "Here are these materials of ours to try for yourselves."
Again, I challenge you to find one of our statements that makes the claim that we will fix all the problems in math education with a single textbook.